Lightened-Up Cheese Sauce


lightened up cheese sauce squareOne of my most favorite things in the whole entire world is cheese sauce. Over noodles (I’d way rather have it drizzled on top of pasta than mixed together), over veggies (just about any vegetable is edible with cheese sauce and mu children agree), with tortilla chips (do I really need to explain?) My conundrum with cheese sauce is that a) I don’t love “cheese product” and b) it’s rarely healthy eating-friendly.


This sauce has made my life. I got the recipe fromΒ America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers,Β but I made a few very minor tweaks, all relating to the cheese (because, well, cheese). The original recipe called for low-fat cheddar cheese, and not too much of it. One thing I’ve found in my most recent weight-loss journey is that it is no longer 1990 and dietary fat isn’t the enemy (in most cases), not really. I’ve had much, much more success when I cut down on refined carbs and sugars and don’t worry so much about the fat. It makes our food taste good and, when paired with protein, it helps signal our brains when we’re full.


I went for the full-fat cheese and I also increased it a little. It still comes in at a very respectable 125 calories–If you have 1 cup of steamed broccoli topped with 1/4 of this sauce, you’ve got a 150-calorie mid-afternoon snack.

You’re going to need chicken broth, a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper, cornstarch, a little Dijon mustard, some light cream cheese, and 1 cup (4 ounces) of freshly shredded medium or sharp cheddar. Medium or sharp because you’ll get more flavor by using less, and freshly shredded (instead of a bag of pre-shredded cheese) because they coat the shreds with a chemical that results in a weird texture when you try to melt it.

lightened up cheese sauce-1

In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup chicken broth and the cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. While the broth is heating, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup broth, cornstarch, and the Dijon mustard. When it comes to a boil, add the cornstarch mixture and boil for about 1 minute or until thickened. Turn heat to low and whisk in the light cream cheese. When totally smooth, whisk in the cheddar cheese. Drizzle over steamed or roasted vegetables,

lightened up cheese sauce-3

zoodles, cooked pasta, baked potatoes, or use it as a dip for chips or like fondue. Makes 4-6 servings.

lightened up cheese sauce-4 copy

P.S. If you haven’t heart, people are getting their cookbooks THIS WEEK!! EEEK! I don’t think they’re on too many shelves yet, but you can order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book, or your favorite independent bookseller.

400 Calories or Less Cover


Our olive oil sale ends TODAY! So head over to the shop and use the code LUCKY to get 15% off your order!



  1. We really like your 2 ingredient gluten free pancakes! I won the county 4H demonstration competition last night and will be moving on to district/regionals. I would like your permission to re-print the recipe and some information from your site. Can I use this in my poster and handouts for the next level of 4H demonstrations? I will properly cite this. I am learning how to do this in my writing class. Thanks, Gabe McFadyen (11 years old)

  2. I would love to see what a day’s worth, or a week’s worth of eating looks like for you. I struggle with breakfast and lunch – mainly it’s hard to actually take the time to cook anything at those times of the day πŸ˜‰ I know I need to up my protein and decrease my carbs, and I do try to stay away from simple carbs, but carbs are definitely the simplest and easiest!
    I love this cheese sauce idea! I bet it would taste pretty spectacular with a can of rotel for some nacho sauce.

  3. Thank you so much for this recipe! I love cheese sauce, but because of the calories I have stayed away from it. With this, I can have it back πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  4. Do you mean that 1/4 cup is 125 calories, or 1/4 of the entire pot is 125 cal? About how many cups of sauce does this recipe yield?

  5. Not to take over all the comments, but I just went to make my first-ever olive oil purchase at the OBB shop, and it’s telling me that the code “LUCKY” is expired. Any thoughts? I’ve tried entering it twice.

    1. Hey Alicia- sorry that was my fault! The coupon expired yesterday, but I had told Kate we were running in through today. I’ve updated it to extend the coupon code through today though, sorry about hold-up. It should work now!

  6. I am excited to try this! I have done many searches for a good homemade cheese sauce, with no luck. Most call for processed cheese- ugh.

  7. I’m sure you’ll be hearing this from others, but Amazon, which previously had sent me a message that my cookbook would be arriving today, just emailed me that it is on backorder, and I had to click a link saying I wanted to continue to wait for the book. It said that if the book doesn’t come in for shipping by Apr. 17th the order will be cancelled. I know that it will, but I’m bummed I won’t be getting my cookbook today. πŸ™

    1. Alicia- I know from experience with our previous books that right about now things like this happen on Amazon and it’s usually because the books are being freighted to the various Amazon warehouses. Often the status changes simply depending on if books have arrived there or not, or still in transit. So don’t lose all hope- I have a feeling it will be arriving soon, regardless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.